Local kids inspired to be kind through app honoring Jennifer Riordan

Education

The smallest things are making a big difference at local elementary schools. A new app is helping kids ‘spark kindness’ while honoring an Albuquerque woman who lived to make others happy.

“Random people you don’t even know, just comforting you because you had a bad day at school, it sort of warms your heart almost and makes your chest want to explode,” said Anjali Harville, a sixth grader at Eisenhower Middle School.

At the start of this semester, Eisenhower and four other Albuquerque schools started using the ‘Spark Kindness’ app, created by the Jennifer Riordan Foundation.

“I thought that was just a genius idea,” said Harville.

On the app, people post nice things they see around school. In one of the most recent posts, a student thanked a classmate for making valentines treats for her to take home to her entire family. 

It appears kids are now having trouble containing their kindness.

“I started to see people pick up trash and help out with, like at lunch,” said Conner Vigil, a sixth grader.

“One time my backpack exploded and it was in the middle of a passing period and I was like, ‘Oh boy, this is going to take forever.’ Then this random kid I have never seen before helped me out and helped me put everything back in my backpack, and I thought that was super kind,” said Harville.

These stories and the 15,000 others like it shared on the app, put a big smile on the founder’s face.

“We want Albuquerque to be the kindness capital of the world for Jennifer,” said Michael Riordan, the founder of the Jennifer Riordan Foundation.

Riordan created the app to honor his wife Jennifer Riordan, who passed away last year in a plane accident. She is loved and remembered by many for her warmth and kindness.

“I talk to her a lot and this is one she’s really proud of,” said Riordan.

Riordan says reading all the posts is something he and his two kids like to do as a family.

“For our family, to be able to read the acts of kindness happening in Jennifer’s name, for Jennifer’s foundation, things that she would’ve come home beaming about, it’s been truly amazing,” said Riordan.

Teachers at Eisenhower said what started as small acts of kindness to post on the app, are transcending borders. 

“It started in the classroom and then made its way out into the school community. Parents were even seeing it at home and they were emailing our admin about it,” said Randilyn Baca, a sixth-grade teacher at Eisenhower.

Baca says the school will use the app through the rest of the school year and kids hope it becomes a regular thing.

“Everybody needs that spark of kindness, every single day of their life,” said Harville.

There is a $1,000 grant up for grabs, for the classroom that has the most ‘kindness points’ at the end of the year. Kids we spoke with say it’s not about that, it’s just about being nice.

Riordan hopes the app is used in even more New Mexico schools next year.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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